Christ is risen! Alleluia. He is risen indeed! Alleluia.
St. Luke – in chapter 24 of his Gospel, if you’d like to follow along – records a conversation between angels and some of the women who had followed Jesus as his disciples. On the surface, it is kind of a strange conversation. I’m paraphrasing somewhat from Luke 24.
The angel asks the women, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:5)
Yeah, what’s up with that anyway?
To be fair, the women weren’t looking for the living that early Sunday morning nearly two thousand years ago. They were looking for Jesus.
Exactly. The living among the dead.
No, you don’t understand. They were looking for Jesus. You know. The one who was crucified by the Romans, by Pontius Pilate, at the insistence of the Sanhedrin.
Right. The living among the dead.
I think what we have here is a breakdown in communication.
We’re looking for Jesus. Who is dead.
No, you’re looking for Jesus who was dead.
What? So you’re saying…?
That’s right. Jesus, who died Friday, is now alive today! Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here. He has risen. Remember that He told you this would happen? (Luke 24:6)
And so we cry:
Christ is risen! Alleluia. He is risen indeed! Alleluia.
Mark records another part of this grave-side conversation.
When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” 4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back— it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” 8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid. – Mark 15:1-8
Ah, but they would certainly change!
A mere 50 days later, the Holy Spirit came with power on Pentecost. And the Holy Spirit did just what Jesus said he would do:
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. – John 14:28
And so they did remember. And not only that, they told everyone about it. They told their family and friends. They told Roman officials and Jewish leaders. They told Greek merchants and African nationals. They told everyone they could, to the point where a description of the result of their telling was that they “have turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).
The angel at the tomb said, “come and see … now go and tell.”
Each week we “come and see” – remember last week? Pastor Kinne took us on the tour of what I like to call “the liturgical dance.” We trace the footprints of Jesus through our worship.
Each time we gather in this place we hear about how Jesus was born to be our substitute. How Jesus lived the perfect life to be our righteousness by faith. Just two days ago we heard in vivid detail once again how Jesus died to earn the forgiveness of all sin. Today we celebrate the glorious resurrection of Jesus from the dead – we celebrate that he rose from the dead so that we, too, will rise from the grave one day. And each week we hear that Jesus ascended into heaven with the promise that he will return and give all believers eternal life.
Indeed, “come and see….”
“Come and see” that this is a day unlike any other. “Come and see” that this is an “upside down” day. Death is overcome with life. Sin is overcome with holiness. Imperfection is overcome with perfection. Hate is overcome with love.
There is now an answer for greed – it is contentment.
There is now an answer for longing – it is satisfaction.
There is now an answer for fear – it is safety.
There is now an answer for conflict – it is peace.
Everything that was is now overcome with life!
Because the Son of the living God has died and rose to life again.
You have a new potential. Who you were is no longer who you can be, because Jesus was dead and is now alive.
The resurrection of Jesus changes everything. It brings life where there once was only death. It brings forgiveness where there once was only sin. It brings victory where once there was only defeat.
The women went to the tomb long ago looking for a dead body. What they found was something else.
What did you come looking for here this morning? Whatever it was, you will find the same thing they did.
Are you looking for a new life? It’s here. Jesus can give you new life. Give up your old life, your old way of thinking. Give yourself to Jesus. Pray, “Jesus, save me. I am yours.” He does it all. He takes your sin away. He gives you His life. He loves you with an everlasting love.
Are you looking for hope? It’s here. Jesus can give you new hope. Give up on hoping in things that won’t last, people that will disappoint, and dreams that will fade. All hope is really based on living, isn’t it? We want to live: live free, live happy, live contented, live peacefully, and live fully. That kind of living hope is what Jesus died and rose again to give you.
Are you looking for peace? It’s here. Give all your conflicts over to Jesus. He is victorious over all sin and death – this empty cross and empty tomb is proof of that. The ultimate conflict of good versus evil was fought at the cross.
And Jesus died.
I know, I know, it sounds like defeat – but this is an upside down day. What looks like one thing is actually the opposite. Jesus death was not defeat. It was victory! Victory over sin and death. And when Christ returns as He promised, we will no longer face death – when the mortal puts on immortality the saying (Isaiah 25:8) will come true: Death is swallowed up in victory!”
Are you looking for rest? It’s here. And I don’t mean the “tomb rest” that you might think of when visiting a cemetery. You often see the words “Rest in Peace” on tombstones. But the rest that is here at Jesus’ empty tomb goes far beyond that kind of rest. It is a rest that truly refreshes and revitalizes.
Jesus’ empty tomb is a place to which you can bring your burdens. It is big enough to hold all your burdens.
Are you burdened with doubt? Bring it to the empty tomb.
Are you burdened with bitterness? Bring it to the empty tomb.
Are you burdened with fear? Bring it to the empty tomb.
Are you burdened with loneliness? Bring it to the empty tomb.
Are you burdened with grief? Bring it to the empty tomb.
Are you burdened with insignificance? Bring it to the empty tomb.
Bring whatever you are burdened with to the empty tomb. Bury it here – for the tomb that once held Jesus Christ is now empty. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 NIV).
Jesus takes your burden into the tomb with His dying breath. But leaves it there when He rises from the dead. It is no longer your burden – that is, unless bringing it here, you lay it down only to take it up again when you leave.
That’s the mistake we often make. We hear Jesus telling us to cast our burdens on Him. We are so thankful that someone has come along to take our burdens away. We give it up, feeling rest for the first time in a really long time. It’s like dipping your hot, tired feet in a cold mountain stream after hours of hiking. But when it comes time to continue our journey, too often we pack up our burdens, put it back on our shoulders and carry on.
Jesus died to take all your burdens away. He died to forgive your sins and rose again to give you life! A burden-less life. That is, He takes your burdens away. Once we are free from our own burdens, we are then free to help carry another’s burden to the cross and empty tomb, for this also fulfills Jesus’ new command to “love one another” (John 13:34).
Ultimately, that is what the empty cross and empty tomb are – perfect symbols of love.
On this Easter day, remember that perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Fear is buried. The power of sin is buried. Death is buried.
“Come and see … now go and tell.”
Go and tell the world that the tomb is empty, for:
Christ is risen! Alleluia. He is risen indeed! Amen.